If you saw a camera crew in Ireland 20 years ago they were probably a news crew recording our football fans during Italia ’90, or making another U2 documentary.
These days however, you can hardly walk through Dublin’s streets without tripping over film maker’s cables, bumping into booms, and running into, well, runners. Famous faces from the big screen are sipping takeaway cappuccinos on our corners, like Sean Penn who was spotted filming in Dublin just weeks ago.
But Penn certainly isn’t alone; today Ireland has become a destination of choice for film productions big and small; you can call us – Ballywood!
Movie making has put Ireland on the map – so we went and made one. The Irish Film Board’s brilliant movie map clocks every famous location shot in Ireland.
Movies and producers have been here a while, from John Ford’s 1950’s classic The Quiet Man; to 1970’s Ryan’s Daughter, based in the West of Ireland; and Jim Sheridan’s 1990 nostalgic The Field. But in the last 20 odd years or so, this little island has reached for, and attracted, the stars. Location scouts turn to us in the hunt for that perfect mountain, forest, lakefront, cityscape, backstreet, and even deserted beach!
It probably all started with the run-away success of the charming 1991 film, The Commitments. Filmed in Bray and Dublin, this soul music feature about a band of musically gifted misfits from North Dublin was full of wit, catchy songs and authentic characters and settings. The film revealed the endearing spirit, stories and talent that could be found on the island, and sparked the drove of independent and blockbuster producers that followed.
Well, to be honest, Ireland looks good on film – like when it stole the scenes and added to the romance of 2007’s P.S. I LoveYou and in 2010’s Leap Year. There is just something about our rolling green hills and bustling cobblestone streets that makes you fall in love (they were romcoms after all). But scenery isn’t everything; we have a lot more up our clap-board holding sleeves, such as home-grown thespians-turned-Hollywood darlings, and awarding-winning directors.
The cast of Ireland’s Ballywood
Our golden boys have formed a Paddy Pack in Hollywood, with the likes of Liam Neeson (Schindler’s List), Gabriel Byrne (The Usual Suspects), Brendan Gleeson (Harry Potter), Colin Farrell (In Bruges), Cillian Murphy (Inception) and Jonathan Rhys Myers (Mission Impossible III). We also have amazing talent behind the camera with directors like Neil Jordan (The Crying Game) and Jim Sheridan (In America). Soairse Ronan is our new budding star, already nominated for an Oscar at the age of 14 for Atonement.
Oh, and did we mention the awards? We have a few…The true story of paralysed Dublin painter Christy Brown in Jim Sheridan’s My Left Foot won an Oscar for leading man Daniel Day-Lewis in 1989. And Guerrilla filming on Dublin’s Grafton Street added to the authentic feel of 2007 Sundance winner Once.
What’s on location in Ireland?
The list is long and unashamedly quite impressive: The long, untouched Curracloe beach in County Wexford doubled as the D-Day beaches for 1998’s Saving Private Ryan. 1995’s Braveheart, 2004’s King Arthur, 2002’s Reign of Fire, and the TV series The Tudors all use Ireland’s scenic and idyllic countryside to take audiences back to a simpler time – be it the middle ages or WWII.
Ireland’s shining stars (at home and in Hollywood)
Former Bond Pierce Brosnan’s production company Dreamtime has utilised Irish locations for the likes of The Nephew (Connemara) and Laws of Attraction (Dublin). Cillian Murphy based himself in his native Cork for Disco Pigs and The Wind That Shakes The Barley; while Ciaran Hinds took Belfast to heart in Titanic Town. Colin Farrell shot in his native Dublin in both Veronica Guerin and Intermission, and along the dramatic coastline of Beara in Cork for Ondine.
Filmmakers, actors, and audiences all agree; Ireland, it seems, is picture perfect. Lights, everybody, please…
You can follow the Atlantic Film Trail, visiting the settings of films like Dancing at Lughnasa, Into the West, Far and Away and cult favourite TV series Father Ted, by getting the brochure from DiscoverIreland’s film page or check out the Irish Film Board’s Movie Map, which has all the locations of movies filmed in Ireland.